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The Standard Model of Physics is Incomplete – New Undiscovered Physics May be Just Around the Corner

Posted by Guy Pirro   04/24/2021 05:44PM

The Standard Model of Physics is Incomplete – New Undiscovered Physics May be Just Around the Corner

First results from the Muon g-2 experiment at Fermilab have strengthened evidence of new physics. The centerpiece of the experiment is a 50-foot-diameter superconducting magnetic storage ring, which sits in its detector hall amidst electronics racks, the muon beamline, and other equipment. This impressive experiment operates at negative 450 degrees Fahrenheit and studies the precession (or wobble) of muons as they travel through the magnetic field. (Image Credit: Reidar Hahn, Fermilab)

 


The Standard Model of Physics is Incomplete – New Undiscovered Physics May be Just Around the Corner

Combined results from Fermilab and Brookhaven show strong evidence that our best theoretical model of the subatomic world, the Standard Model of Particle Physics, is incomplete. The Standard Model took a long time to build. Physicist J.J. Thomson discovered the electron in 1897 and scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) found the final piece of the puzzle, the Higgs boson, in 2012. According to the Standard Model, all ordinary matter, including every atom in the periodic table of elements, consists of only three types of matter particles: up and down quarks (which make up the protons and neutrons in the nucleus) and leptons (which include the electrons that surround the nucleus). The model also explains how force carrying particles, which belong to a broader group of bosons, influence the quarks and leptons. That’s basically it.

The Standard Model explains three of the four fundamental forces that govern the Universe: electromagnetism, the strong force, and the weak force. Electromagnetism is carried by photons and involves the interaction of electric fields and magnetic fields. The strong force, which is carried by gluons, binds together atomic nuclei to make them stable. The weak force, carried by W and Z bosons, causes nuclear reactions that have powered our Sun and other stars for billions of years. The fourth fundamental force is gravity, which is not adequately explained by the Standard Model.

Despite its success at explaining the Universe, the Standard Model does have limits. For example, the Higgs boson gives mass to quarks, charged leptons (like electrons), and the W and Z bosons, however, we do not yet know whether the Higgs boson also gives mass to neutrinos, those ghostly particles that interact very rarely with other matter in the Universe. Now, results from the “Muon g-2 Experiment” at Fermilab seem to indicate that a new particle (or force) is showing itself by interacting with muons in an unexpected way.

 

 

 

The long-awaited first results from the Muon g-2 experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory show fundamental particles called muons behaving in a way that is not predicted by scientists’ best theory, the Standard Model of particle physics. This landmark result, made with unprecedented precision, confirms a discrepancy that has been gnawing at researchers for decades.

The strong evidence that muons deviate from the Standard Model calculation might hint at exciting new physics. Muons act as a window into the subatomic world and could be interacting with yet undiscovered particles or forces.

“Today is an extraordinary day, long awaited not only by us but by the whole international physics community,” said Graziano Venanzoni, co-spokesperson of the Muon g-2 experiment and physicist at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics. “A large amount of credit goes to our young researchers who, with their talent, ideas and enthusiasm, have allowed us to achieve this incredible result.”

 

 

 

A muon is about 200 times as massive as its cousin, the electron. Muons occur naturally when cosmic rays strike Earth’s atmosphere, and particle accelerators at Fermilab can produce them in large numbers. Like electrons, muons act as if they have a tiny internal magnet. In a strong magnetic field, the direction of the muon’s magnet precesses, or wobbles, much like the axis of a spinning top or gyroscope. The strength of the internal magnet determines the rate that the muon precesses in an external magnetic field and is described by a number that physicists call the g-factor. This number can be calculated with ultra-high precision.

As the muons circulate in the Muon g-2 magnet, they also interact with a quantum foam of subatomic particles popping in and out of existence. Interactions with these short-lived particles affect the value of the g-factor, causing the muons’ precession to speed up or slow down very slightly. The Standard Model predicts this so-called anomalous magnetic moment extremely precisely. But if the quantum foam contains additional forces or particles not accounted for by the Standard Model, that would tweak the muon g-factor further.

 

 

 

“This quantity we measure reflects the interactions of the muon with everything else in the Universe. But when the theorists calculate the same quantity, using all of the known forces and particles in the Standard Model, we don’t get the same answer,” said Renee Fatemi, a physicist at the University of Kentucky and the simulations manager for the Muon g-2 experiment. “This is strong evidence that the muon is sensitive to something that is not in our best theory.”

The predecessor experiment at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, which concluded in 2001, offered hints that the muon’s behavior disagreed with the Standard Model. The new measurement from the Muon g-2 experiment at Fermilab strongly agrees with the value found at Brookhaven and diverges from theory with the most precise measurement to date. 

The combined results from Fermilab and Brookhaven show a difference with theory at a significance of 4.2 sigma, a little shy of the 5 sigma (or standard deviations) that scientists require to claim a discovery but still compelling evidence of new physics. The chance that the results are a statistical fluctuation is about 1 in 40,000.

The Fermilab experiment reuses the main component from the Brookhaven experiment, a 50-foot-diameter superconducting magnetic storage ring. In 2013, it was transported 3,200 miles by land and sea from Long Island to the Chicago suburbs, where scientists could take advantage of Fermilab’s particle accelerator and produce the most intense beam of muons in the United States. Over the next four years, researchers assembled the experiment; tuned and calibrated an incredibly uniform magnetic field; developed new techniques, instrumentation, and simulations; and thoroughly tested the entire system.

 

 

 

The Muon g-2 experiment sends a beam of muons into the storage ring, where they circulate thousands of times at nearly the speed of light. Detectors lining the ring allow scientists to determine how fast the muons are precessing.

In its first year of operation, in 2018, the Fermilab experiment collected more data than all prior muon g-factor experiments combined. With more than 200 scientists from 35 institutions in seven countries, the Muon g-2 collaboration has now finished analyzing the motion of more than 8 billion muons from that first run.

“After the 20 years that have passed since the Brookhaven experiment ended, it is so gratifying to finally be resolving this mystery,” said Fermilab scientist Chris Polly, who is a co-spokesperson for the current experiment and was a lead graduate student on the Brookhaven experiment.

Data analysis on the second and third runs of the experiment is under way, the fourth run is ongoing, and a fifth run is planned. Combining the results from all five runs will give scientists an even more precise measurement of the muon’s wobble, revealing with greater certainty whether new physics is hiding within the quantum foam.

 

 

 

 “So far we have analyzed less than 6% of the data that the experiment will eventually collect. Although these first results are telling us that there is an intriguing difference with the Standard Model, we will learn much more in the next couple of years,” Polly said.

“Pinning down the subtle behavior of muons is a remarkable achievement that will guide the search for physics beyond the Standard Model for years to come,” said Fermilab Deputy Director of Research Joe Lykken. “This is an exciting time for particle physics research, and Fermilab is at the forefront.”

The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Fermilab, a DOE Office of Science laboratory, is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics research. Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance LLC. Brookhaven National Laboratory, also primarily supported by DOE’s Office of Science, delivers discovery science and transformative technology to power and secure the nation’s future. Brookhaven Lab is a multidisciplinary laboratory with seven Nobel Prize-winning discoveries, 37 R&D 100 Awards, and more than 70 years of pioneering research. Brookhaven is managed for the Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a partnership between Stony Brook University and Battelle.

 

For more information:

 

https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=118760

 

https://news.fnal.gov/2021/04/first-results-from-fermilabs-muon-g-2-experiment-strengthen-evidence-of-new-physics/

 

https://www.washington.edu/news/2021/04/07/muon-g-2-first-results/

 

https://physics.aps.org/articles/v14/54

 

https://www.energy.gov/science/doe-explainsthe-standard-model-particle-physics

 

https://astromart.com/news/show/solving-five-problems-of-particle-physics-and-cosomolgy-in-one-stroke

 

https://astromart.com/news/show/the-periodic-table-of-the-elements-turns-150-this-year

 

https://astromart.com/news/show/fermilab-observes-a-new-particle-the-omega-sub-b-baryon

 

 

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